Last updated: 02/27/15
For years, Yountville meant the Veterans Home. Almost one third of the town’s population lives at the facility, which was founded in 1884.
But during dining hours, a different crowd gathers – diners heading to destination restaurants owned by celebrity chefs. One of my favorites is Thomas Keller’s Bouchon.
Perhaps some of the Yountville vets served in France. Perhaps they had the pleasure of dining at a bistro there. If so I imagine Bouchon would invoke fond memories of an authentic French brasserie.
It can get noisy and active. But it is a dining and people-watching treat.
On our latest visit, we decided to go as French as we could. That meant starting with French onion soup – sorry soupe a l’oignon – a delicious combination of rich beef broth, caramelized onions, country bread and Gruyere cheese.
Then my wife had an eggy, moist spinach quiche while I tried the croque madame – a sandwich much better eaten than described. Literally, it’s a ham and cheese. Yes, but. This is two thick slices of sweet brioche, grilled ‘till the ham and Gruyere in the center are the perfect temperature, then topped with a fried egg and sauce Mornay. Mais oui.
The menu has many other traditional bistro favorites – roast chicken, steak frites (with truffle fries), trout amandine, lamb, seafood and more. All with French names. None presented with pretentious fussiness.
This is a classic, casual French restaurant worth the drive – from the Veterans Home on the other side of town, or wherever you happen to be.
One tip. The Bouchon Bakery is next door. While the desserts at the restaurant are tempting, it might not be a bad idea to skip dessert at the restaurant and go next door for the sweets.